Snapchat is an instant messaging application created by three Stanford students. Messages sent in Snapchat known as “snaps” are self-destructive images and video clips. The concept is that users can send snaps that last up to 10 seconds after they are opened by the receivers. Since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has achieved an active user base of 150 million users with more than 9,000 snaps being sent every second. Aside from the statistics, Snapchat has successfully incorporated emotion into instant messaging and brought forth a new lifestyle for teenagers and young adults. After all, what is it that makes Snapchat so successful?
When evaluating the potential of a product, the question we always ask is why would people want to use it. In the early stages of product development and marketing, a similar question guides the developers to establish and grow a user base. In Snapchat’s case, it is extremely important to take the competitions into consideration. Therefore, Snapchat addresses the question of why would people use Snapchat instead of Facebook Messenger, iMessage, or any other existing IM (instant messaging) platform?
Unlike any other IM platform, messages sent in Snapchat are self-destructive and ephemeral, meaning that they are only available for a few seconds before they “disappear.” This feature clearly appeals to those who appreciate the speed of instant messaging but are in need of a little more of privacy. Thus, the majority of Snapchat’s users are teenagers and young adults.
While many other platforms allow users to send photos and videos, Snapchat perfects the feature by making it quicker. Snapchat is built from the ground up for sending videos and photos. When users open the app, they see a camera instead of a list of their contacts. By clicking or holding the circle shutter, they are able to “snap” a photo or a short video. After that, all they need to do is to designate the receivers and press “send”. The whole process takes less than a few seconds.
In addition, Snapchat has added a sense of intimacy to messages. It allows users to overlay a message on a photo or video. Hence, messages are transformed from plain texts into something visual. Most commonly, a Snapchat message consists of a selfie (a photograph that one has taken of oneself) and an overlaid message. In this way, the receiver would be able to perceive the emotion of the sender through his or her facial expressions.
These three signature features of Snapchat have largely contributed to the success of the product. In my next blog post, I will continue the discussion of Snapchat’s success story and focus on the aspects of updates and monetization. In the meantime, feel free to comment in the area below.
Here is a link to a more comprehensive data sheet of Snapchat: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/snapchat-statistics/
Introducing Snapchat Stories (Feat. Smallpools). Produced by Snapchat. Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ie5_aaHOhE. Accessed 24 Oct. 2016.
Johnson, Lauren. “With 50 Million Daily Users in Europe, Snapchat Pitches Brands in Germany.” Adweek, 14 Sept. 2016, http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/50-million-daily-users-europe-snapchat-pitches-brands-across-pond-173510. Accessed 23 Oct. 2016.
Morrison, Kimberlee. “How People Are Really Using Snapchat.” SocialTimes, Adweek, 26 Jan. 2016, http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/how-are-people-really-using-snapchat-infographic/633305. Accessed 24 Oct. 2016.
Snapchat logo. Snapchat, Snap, http://www.snapchat.com. Accessed 23 Oct. 2016.